Clitheroe vs Radcliffe Borough, Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One North, 01/10/16, Shawbridge
With my car back on the road, my possibilities for adventure had increased enormously, and I must have annoyed my wife as I spent most of Saturday morning trying to decide on where to go. I’ve recently downloaded the Groundhopper app, after seeing a couple of other groundhoppers talking about it. The nearby fixtures element of the app threw up a number of potential ties, but it was the photo of Shawbridge that sealed the deal for myself.
I arrived into Clitheroe at around 2.15pm and quickly found Shawbridge tucked down a side street, opposite to a large Lidl. There isn’t any parking for supporters at the ground, and I was happy to have found a car-park nearby, which meant I wasn’t inconveniencing any of the nearby residents, something I used to hate when I lived in Wrexham.
It cost £8 to get in to today’s match, and as soon as I was through the turnstile, I was greeted warmly by the volunteer selling the Golden Goal tickets, of which I bought one costing me £1. As soon as I had purchased my Golden Goal ticket, I found myself warmly welcomed by the lady selling programmes from a little shed. Now I feel that I may have been under-charged as the programme cost me £1.50, but I would have paid at least £2.50 for this wonderfully presented programme, full of information and well designed, whoever the programme editor is needs to pat themselves on the back, as they’ve done a brilliant job.
The first thing I noticed about Shawbridge was the slope on the pitch, from behind the goal by the turnstiles, the pitch slopes from right to left, with the corner flag on the right hand side of the far goal, being on level with around quarter of the way up the goal post. I think the best way to describe Shawbridge would be tight, as there isn’t a lot of space around the ground, however it is a wonderful ground. Behind the goal nearest to the touchlines, stands a small covered terrace, which runs from the corner flag on the left hand side, to around the middle of the goal, and on the right hand side of this space, stands Lordy’s Bar, a wonderful clubhouse, more on that later. Along the touchline to the left of the turnstiles, are a number of port-a-cabins, which house the hospitality suite, toilets, refreshment hut and changing rooms. From the halfway line onwards stands the main stand, which provides the only seats in the ground. The ground really displays how tight it is behind the far goal, where a slim terrace runs behind the goal, standing just behind the goal is a covered terrace. Along the other touchline stands a long covered terrace which stretches for the majority of the touchline. But what really impressed me about Shawbridge was the beauty of the backdrop, behind the main stand, a beautiful looking church is visible, and behind the goal, nearest to the turnstiles, stands a proud looking castle, and I actually regret not getting to Clitheroe earlier to take a look around.
I took a walk around the ground, whilst waiting for some teamsheets to be printed off, as there was a sign stating that teamsheets would be available in the hospitality area for 10p, however the volunteer responsible for printing them had gone somewhere, but they were getting them printed. Following the conclusion of my lap of the ground, I decided to pop into Lordy’s Bar, and have a pint of the ale Clitheroe had been promoting on Twitter, from Bowland Brewery. The clubhouse is brilliantly laid out, with shirts and memorabilia displayed around the clubhouse, the bar itself looks new and well cared for. I could have had a pint of my usual Carling, but decided on a pint of Hen Harrier, a pale ale from Bowland Brewery. For the price of £2.60 this has got to be the nicest pale ale I have ever had the pleasure of drinking, and if I hadn’t been driving I would have had plenty more of it, I’m definitely going to be keeping my eye out for Bowland Brewery from now on.
With my pint finished, and kick off approaching, I headed back to the hospitality suite where I bought a teamsheet for 10p, I then wandered around the ground and decided to stand by the large covered terrace opposite to the Main Stand.
Clitheroe were formed in 1877 as Clitheroe Central, at the Swan Hotel in Castle Street by local businessmen. The club began life playing in local leagues, and in 1903 they joined the Lancashire Combination and dropped Central from their name. The club played in the Lancashire Combination until 1982 when the North West Counties League was formed following the combination of the Lancashire Combination and the Cheshire League. Clitheroe were initially placed in the Third Division of the NWCFL, due to the state of the ground, however the most successful period in the club’s history was due to follow, under the stewardship of Eric Whalley, who went on to be manager and chairman of Accrington Stanley, they assembled on of the best non-league sides, and won back to back championships in the Third, Second and First divisions, and also secured the Lancashire Cup for the first time in 50 years. However Whalley soon left for Accrington, taking most of the first team with him, another setback was presented in the form of the Unibond Division 1, but a lack of floodlights meant that Clitheroe could not take a place in that league. Clitheroe reached the final of the FA Vase on a number of occasions during the 90’s, and were unfortunate not to win the competition. The Blues reached the Unibond League in time for the 2004/2005 season, following winning the NWCFL league title on the final day of the 2003/2004 season. Since this promotion the club have remained at this level of the Non-League pyramid. Currently Clitheroe sit in 7th in the league with their last match ending in a 3-0 away win at Kendal Town.
Radcliffe Borough were a team I first heard of when Shrewsbury spent a season on loan to the Conference, as we signed Jody Banim from them for £20,000. Recently Callum Grogan has signed for Radcliffe on loan from Shrewsbury, and I was interested to see how he would play, as I have heard good things about the lad. Radcliffe were formed in April 1949, and they became South East Lancashire Football League members. Following a period in the South East Lancashire Football League, the club joined the Manchester League, with another league move to soon follow in 1963, as the joined the Lancashire Combination. In 1974 the club moved league again, and joined the Cheshire League, but were to soon find themselves in a new league, as the Cheshire League and Lancashire Combination combined to form the NWCFL, in the first season of competing in the NWCFL Second Division the club won the championship, and found themselves in the First Division, and following one season in this league, they won the First Division Championship. In 1987 the club were accepted to the newly formed Northern Premier League Division One. In 1997, the club won the Unibond First Division title, however their stay in the Unibond Premier Division lasted just one season. Play-Off success came in 2003, when the club won promotion from the NPL First Division, to the NPL Premier Division. With Boro back in the Premier Division, a top 13 finish would have seen them qualify for promotion to the Conference North, and with Jody Banim knocking in the goals they looked like they would achieve this, however after selling Banim to Shrewsbury in December 2003, they slid down the table and finished 19th, missing out on the Conference North. Boro were relegated to the Evo Stik Northern Premier League Division One North in 2007, and have remained at this level ever since. Currently they sit 15th in the league, with their last match resulting in a 2-1 defeat away to Tadcaster Albion.
The first half was to produce no goals, which was good for me as my Golden Goal time was the 83rd minute. Radcliffe enjoyed the better of the opening period with their wingers, Jack Hindle, number 7, and Elliot Rookfi, number 11, causing no end of problems for the Clitheroe full backs. Despite their league position, Radcliffe raced out of the blocks at the start, and were thwarted on a number of occasions by Chris Thompson in the Clitheroe goal, who had an extremely good game.
However it wasn’t all one way traffic, as Clitheroe also had chances to get themselves into the lead, and only a combination of good defending and poor luck in front of goal kept the score level, with both sides going into the break with plenty to reflect on.
Half Time: Clitheroe 0-0 Radcliffe Borough
At half time, I took a walk around to the brilliantly named “Blue’s Grub Tub”, and despite the smell of the pies, I decided to buy a Twix and a can of Diet Coke for £1.70, before standing under the covered terrace by the turnstiles. Behind this goal there were a couple of plastic garden chairs, however I decided against sitting, and stood by the perimeter wall to watch the second half.
Clitheroe started the half well, and in response Radcliffe made their first change in the 52nd minute with their number 10, Frank Van Gils, leaving the pitch to be replaced by their number 17, Aboubacar Sonogo.
Clitheroe were to be the team to break the deadlock, something they did in spectacular fashion in the 54th minute. The ball dropped perfectly for number 8, Bradley Carroll, who hit a thumping drive from outside of the area, with his shot smashing against the crossbar and bouncing down. Now from where I was stood I didn’t see the ball cross the line and initially the referee went to continue the game, however the linesman who was in a much better position signalled the goal, and Clitheroe found themselves in the lead.
The 57th minute saw a short break in play, as the referee had to go over to his assistant and help him mend his flag, which had broken. During this break in play, Radcliffe made another change, with their number 15, Conor Ready, taking to the field in place of their number 7, Jack Hindle.
Clitheroe made their first change in the 63rd minute, as Kisimba Kisimba, number 12, came on to replace, Macauley Harewood, number 2. Radcliffe followed this in the 66th minute by making their final change, with Glenn Belezika, number 14, coming on for Ishmail Suliman, number 2.
Radcliffe had seen a number of goals ruled out for offside, and it didn’t look like it would be their day, until the 73rd minute, when Aboubacar Sonogo broke into the box, and went down following a challenge in the area. It was to be Sonogo that stood up and took the penalty, and his penalty was well placed as he beat Thompson to equalize. (I have noticed that the Non League Paper have reported that Gareth Roberts was sent off for conceding this penalty, however that isn’t the case.)
Following this goal Clitheroe made a change in the 75th minute, with Harry Pratt, number 9, leaving the field to be replaced by Bradley Knox, number 15. Clitheroe made their final change in the 83rd minute, with Alex Newby, number 10, being replaced by number 14, Jonathan Hession.
Gareth Roberts, Clitheroe’s number 4, did see red in the 88th minute, as he was adjudged to have been the last man, and his challenge on the edge of the area, saw him give away a free kick in a dangerous position, as well as leaving his team a player down. However the resulting free kick was wasted, which I’m sure Roberts was relieved about.
There was to be one final twist in the tale, as Clitheroe won a penalty in the 90th minute, following a poor challenge in the area, Bradley Carroll stepped up to take the kick, and he hit his shot low towards the right hand corner, however Matthew Johnson in the Radcliffe goal, guessed well, and managed to get a hand to the ball to keep the score at 1-1.
Final Score: Clitheroe 1-1 Radcliffe Borough (Carroll 54 – Sonogo 73)
Following the final whistle, I quickly made my way back to my car, where TalkSport informed me that Shrewsbury had drawn with Swindon. After making the mistake of driving through Preston, who had beaten Aston Villa 2-0, I soon found myself back at home in Chorley.
A point today sees Clitheroe stay in 9th place in the league, however only 7 points separates them from Brighouse who currently sit at the top of the league, meaning a good run of form could see Clitheroe climb the table quickly. Clitheroe is a wonderful club, and to be honest I think they could be my club of the season, if I get around to writing a review of the season blog, I really enjoyed my visit, and especially enjoyed the warm welcome I received from the volunteers at Clitheroe, who are doing a fantastic job at their club. Shawbridge is a wonderful ground, and I am looking forward to visiting again in the future.
Radcliffe have dropped to 16th in the league, following today’s draw, with them only being 3 points above Ossett Albion who currently reside in 21st position in the league. Radcliffe have only played 9 games so far, so there is still everything to play for, and if they begin every game the way they began this game then they should start to pick up the wins which’ll see them climb the table. I’m happy to say that Callum Grogan had a good game at the back for Radcliffe, he couldn’t have done a lot about Clitheroe’s goal, but what he did have to do he did well. Finally thanks for Jody Banim!
Hat-tricks seen so far: 0
Clitheroe’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClitheroeFC
Radcliffe Borough’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/radcliffeboro